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Zoe Francois' Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Purple Sweet Potato Pie

byZoë François
Total 8 hours and 30 minutes (includes chilling and cooling times)
Active 90 mins
Makes One 9-inch pie
TIP: To make the puree, cook sweet potatoes in boiling water until tender, then drain off the water, reserving it for the puree and meringue. I pureed the sweet potato in a food processor and added some of the cooking water until I had the consistency of canned pumpkin. Reserve 3/4 cup water for the meringue.
Special Equipment
a kitchen blow torch
Special Equipment
a kitchen blow torch
All-Butter Pie Crust (makes two 9-inch, deep-dish pie crusts):
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (330 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vodka
  • About 1/2 cup ice water (have more on the ready just in case)
Purple Sweet Potato Pie:
  • 24 ounces (680 grams) purple sweet potato puree (see Cook's Note)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom extract
  • Pinch kosher salt
Italian Meringue:
  • 2 cups (400 grams) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup reserved purple sweet potato cooking water (see Cook's Note), strained through a fine-mesh sieve
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom extract
    1. Make the pie crust: There are many ways to cut the butter into the flour, but I prefer to use a combination of my food processor and my hands. The food processor breaks up the fat quickly, so there is less time for it to get warm. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the machine. Put the butter in the machine in 3 parts and pulse 2 to 3 times after each addition. By the time you’ve added all of the butter, some of it will be completely blended into the flour and some will be in large pea-sized pieces. Add the vodka to the ice water, then add the mixture to the dough 3 tablespoons at a time and pulse just once to combine each time. If you pulse too much at this point you will continue to break down the butter too much.
    2. Once you’ve added all the water, pour the dough out onto the counter. It may still need some more water, so I like to do the rest by hand to avoid breaking down the butter too much. First try pressing the dough together to determine if it is too dry. If it isn’t holding together, or there is still powdery flour, then add a couple more tablespoons of water and try pressing together again. The dough should come together without falling apart, but not be too mushy with water.
    3. Press into a log and cut into 2 pieces. Form the dough into 2 disks and wrap each well with plastic. You should see the whole pieces of butter in the dough; this is what you want to create the flakiness. Chill for at least 2 hours.
    4. Remove one disk from the fridge. Reserve the other disk for another use (you can freeze it up to 3 months to have pie dough on the ready for your next project). Sprinkle flour onto your counter. Roll the dough out from the center, adding a little flour and turning the dough a quarter-turn to make sure it isn’t sticking too much to the surface.
    5. Make sure the dough will fit the pan you are using. There should be about 2 extra inches around the pie plate. Use your rolling pin to transfer the dough to the pie plate. Put the rolling pin in the middle of the dough and fold the dough over the pin to lift it. Trim and crimp the edges, then freeze for at least 15 minutes.
    6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    7. After you’ve frozen the pie crust for at least 15 minutes, line with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown on the edge and dry looking in the middle.
    8. Make the sweet potato pie filling: Lower the oven to 325°F.
    9. In a large bowl, whisk together the sweet potato puree, sour cream, sugar, eggs, evaporated milk, extracts, and salt. Pour into the blind-baked pie shell.
    10. Bake the pie for 75 to 90 minutes (may take longer depending on the temperature of the ingredients when they go in the oven), or until the sides start to puff and the middle is set but still slightly wobbly. Cool completely, about 3 hours. The pie will be easier to cut once completely cool or refrigerated.
    11. Make the Italian meringue: Prepare this and pile on JUST BEFORE SERVING!
    12. In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, bring the sugar, corn syrup, and reserved purple sweet potato water to a boil over medium-high heat. If any of the sugar crystals get onto the side of the pan, be sure to wipe them down with a wet, clean pastry brush. The sugar needs to cook until it hits 248° F on the thermometer. This takes several minutes. Meanwhile, once the sugar syrup has reached 235° F, whip the egg whites in your stand mixer until they are medium peaks.
    13. Once the sugar reaches the final temperature of 248°F, slowly pour it into the bowl of whipping egg whites while the beater is going on slow speed. Be sure to pour it along the side of the bowl so that the hot syrup doesn’t hit the beater and splatter. Allow the eggs and sugar mixture to beat on medium-high speed until the meringue is light, fluffy, glossy, and bright blue. Add the extract and whip for another 30 seconds.
    14. Mound half the meringue onto the chilled pie. Pipe the remaining meringue onto the mound to create a pattern. Toast the meringue with a kitchen blow torch just before serving.
      Propane gas torches are highly flammable and should be kept away from heat, open flame and prolonged exposure to sunlight. They should be used only in well-ventilated areas. Follow torch manufacturer's instructions for use.